Contaminants on radar
AIRPORT TO BE CHECKED FOR TOXIC CHEMICALS
PERTH Airport is being assessed for contamination by the same toxic chemicals that leeched into groundwater and rendered farmland unusable around the RAAF Williamtown base in New South Wales.
The culprits are the man-made chemicals perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) found in fire fighting foam used at airports and Department of Defence sites across Australia.
Federal government organisation Airservices Australia, responsible for regulating firefighting foam used at government-owned airports, is expected to release preliminary test results in a report next month.
A spokesperson for Perth Airport said it was working closely with a range of State and Commonwealth government agencies, including the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD), Airservices Australia and the state departments of Environmental Regulation and Health.
“Perth Airport complies with the DIRD guidelines in conducting risk assessments on its operations to ensure the safety of its employees,” the spokesperson said.
Federal Greens Senator for WA Rachel Siewert tsaid due to Perth’s use of groundwater and bores, any issues of contamination would be complex.
“Perth has a large number of bores and is particularly reliant on groundwater,” she said.
“In the case of Oakley (Queensland), the local fishing industry was seriously affected. Residents were unable to consume anything caught in the waterways and their land became unfit for purpose.”
Due to its widespread use most people have small amounts of PFOS and PFOA in their body.
However, due to its slow degradation rate repeated ingestion can result in their build up.
According to Shine Lawyers, who are acting on behalf of Oakley landowners to determine the possibility of a class action, blood tests conducted on residents showed they had 44 times the recommended amount of the chemicals in their system.